Gould to offer legal, financial assistance to DACA recipients

Photo courtesy of USC Gould School of Law

The USC Gould Immigration Clinic will provide financial and legal assistance for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients looking to renew their work permits.

The Immigration Clinic put out an “Urgent Message to DACA Recipients” on Thursday, encouraging undocumented USC students, employees and their family members with DACA work permits that expired after Sept. 5 and before March 5 to renew them.

President Donald Trump issued an order Tuesday that will terminate the DACA program, an Obama-era policy that gave renewable two-year periods of deportation relief and work permits to undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors.

The order’s enforcement will be delayed for six months, but immigrants currently under the program can renew their permits and retain their legal status for up to two years if their permits expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, according to Immigration Clinic Director Niels Frenzen.

“[They are] allowing people whose current DACA work permits expire between [Sept. 5 and March 5] — a 30-day period to file for a DACA work permit renewal,” Frenzen said. “Normally, they wouldn’t be thinking about filing to renew … until January or February, but they only have until Oct. 5 to file to renew if they want to have their two-year extension.”

If DACA recipients don’t renew their permits before Oct. 5, they will lose the ability to work legally in the United States and will lose their deportation protection, Frenzen said.

The Gould Immigration Clinic will provide legal assistance to DACA recipients to help them complete applications and file them before the deadline, but Frenzen also stressed than any non-citizen immigrants should consult the clinic about their legal status and potential path to citizenship.

“The basic thing we’re suggesting to anyone who’s an immigrant is to come in, sit down with one of our attorneys, and we will identify whether you have any options to get legal status,” Frenzen said. “In some cases, we identify a possible form of relief that they were unaware of. If someone has a path to citizenship, we’ll assist them with that, or give them a referral as appropriate.”

According to the email, USC is also providing financial assistance for both undergraduate and graduate students who need help paying to renew their DACA work permits.

Frenzen said funding for the financial aid is in part coming from the Undergraduate Student Government, which allocated $10,000 for DACA students’ renewal fees Tuesday night.

The renewal filing fee for the permits is $495, and the message urged individuals to not delay their renewal applications because of financial reasons.

Frenzen said that paying attention to developments in immigration policy is important for any non-citizen in the United States, so they know about actionable changes, such as the Oct. 5 renewal deadline.

“Things could change,” Frenzen said. “I have no reason to believe that the shutdown of the DACA program is going to change, but Trump sent out a tweet [yesterday] that is a strange tweet — one interpretation would be that he might give serious consideration to restoring DACA within six months.”

The tweet, which President Trump published on Thursday, read: “For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about – No action!”